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Dantean Echoes

Comparative Literature (M.Phil.) – Option
Co-ordinator: Igor Candido
Location: Phoenix House, 7-9 South Leinster Street, Room PX206.
Schedule: Tue 16:00-18:00

Recommended readings:

  • Dante Alighieri, The Comedy (any English edition). [The best commentary in English is: Inferno-Purgatorio-Paradiso, translated by Robert and Jean Hollander, edited by Robert Hollander, New York: Doubleday 2002, 2004, 2007.]
  • The Poets’ Dante. Twentieth-Century Responses, ed. by Peter S. Hawkins and Rachel Jacoff, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001 [858.1 DANg P16]
  • John Freccero, In Dante's wake : reading from medieval to modern in the Augustinian tradition, edited by Danielle Callegari and Melissa Swain, New York: Fordham UP, 2015. [LEN 858.1 DANg R53]

Module Title

Dantean Echoes

Module Description

  • the aim of the module
  • the structure of the module
  • the style of delivery
  • the assessment

(200 words max)

This option course explores influence of Dante Alighieri, firstly by placing him in a context of world literature (both narrative and philosophical) from ancient times to the modern period, and secondly by tracing his impact on number of English-language and Italian writers from the Renaissance to the 20th Century.

Indicative Module Structure:
titles only

Week 1


Week 2

Dante and his predecessors

Week 3

The Reduced Dante: outline of the Comedy

Week 4

Dante and Philosophy

Week 5

Underworlds in English

Week 6

Dante and Primo Levi

Week 7


Week 8

Osip Mandelstam, Conversation on Dante

Week 9

Dante in exile in England and North America

Week 10

Dante and Beckett

Week 11

'Irish' echoes of Dante: Thomas Kinsella, Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson

Week 12

Dante in popular culture

Set text(s)
If you set a textbook, please name it. If you use journal articles or your own materials, please describe them very briefly (e.g. journal articles supplied / module handbook)

Materials provided week by week.


Week 1
Introduction to the option – Igor Candido (all colleagues are most welcome)
Course objectives; bibliography. General introduction to Dante's Comedy. The Four Meanings of the Scripture. Dante and the Bible. The medieval literature of Vision.

Week 2
The Reduced Dante: outline of the Comedy – Igor Candido.
Readings from the Comedy.
Primary works: Any English translation of the poem.
Secondary Works: R. Hollander, Dante. A Life in Works (New Haven and London, 2001), 90-148. [HB-64-162]

Week 3
Dante and his predecessors – Giuliana Adamo.
Beginnings in Dante and his predecessors
Primary works:

  • Dante, Inferno, transl. by Robin Kirkpatrick, Penguin Classics, 2006 (Canto 1)
  • P. Vergili Maronis, Aeneid, Liber Primus, commentary by R.G. Austin, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1971
  • Horace, De Arte Poetica, commentary by E.C. Wickham, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1903

Secondary works:

  • Nuttall A.D., Openings. Narrative Beginnings from the Epic to the Novel, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1992
  • Adamo G., 'Beginnings and Endings in Novels", in New Readings, vol. one, School of European Studies, Univ. of Wales, Cardiff College, s.d., pp. 83-104.
  • Adamo G., “Twentieth-Century Recent Theories on Beginnings and Endings of Novels”, in Annali di Italianistica, Vol. 18, ed. by Dino Cervigni, The Univ. of North Carolina at Chapell Hill, 2000, pp. 49-76.
    [The two essays by Giuliana Adamo contain further essential bibliography. If the works mentioned are not in TCD Library please ask your lecturer.]

Week 4
Dante and Philosophy – Brendan O’Byrne.

Reading: Primary works:

  • Dante: The Divine Comedy, any of the main translations should suffice.
  • Dante [?] Epistle to Can Grande
  • Plato Republic esp Bk II 376d 398b; VII

Secondary Works:

  • Ricoeur, Paul. "Metaphor and the Main Problem of Hermeneutics." New Literary History 6 (1974): 95-110. also in A Ricoeur Reader: Reflection and Imagination , ed. Mario Valdés (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991): p. 318.
  • Martin Heidegger, Being and Time esp. Section V, 34 “Understanding and Interpretation”, pp. 188 - 195
  • Robert Hollander, Allegory in Dante's Commedia, Princeton University Press: Princeton, N.J., 1969 [not available in TCD library; one copy in UCD]
  • Robert Lamberton, Homer the Theologian: Neoplatonist Allegorical Reading and the Growth of the Epic Tradition (University of - California Press: Berkeley, & L.A., 1986). Especially Section VI E "The late Middle Ages and Dante”, pp. 282-297
  • James Coulter, The Literary Microcosm: Theories of Interpretation of the Later Neoplatonists. Brill: Leiden, 1976 esp. chapter on the symbol.

Week 5
Underworlds in English – Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.
This session will begin with a discussion of the ways in which Dante’s critique of Papal power was taken up by the English Renaissance and Reformation. We will then discuss modes of imitation from Dante’s use of Virgil to Spenser’s and Milton’s use of Dante.


  • Aeneid iii, 19-68, Polydorus; Dante, Inferno xiii, 55-78, Pier delle Vigne; Spenser, Faerie Queene, I, ii, 28-45, Fradubio; Milton, Paradise Lost ii, 636-897, Guardians of Hell.

Further reading:

  • Article, “Dante”, in The Spenser Encyclopedia, ed. A.C. Hamilton, London: Routledge, 2014.
  • Jackson Campbell Boswell, Dante's fame in England : references in printed British books, 1477-1640, Newark : University of Delaware Press ; London : Associated University Presses, 1999
  • J. E. Hankins, Source and Meaning in Spenser’s Allegory, Oxford : Clarendon, 1973, especially pp 60-74, on the meaning of ‘Silva’ in the commentaries on Virgil and Dante.
  • George F. Butler, “Giants and Fallen Angels in Dante and Milton: the Commedia and the Gigantomachy in Paradise Lost”, in Modern Philology 95.3 Feb. 1998, 352-63.
  • John Wooten, "From Purgatory to the Paradise of Fools: Dante, Ariosto, and Milton" in ELH 49.4 (1982): 741–5.
  • Terence Cave, The Cornucopian Text, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985 – the first half of the book has an excellent account of the issues of translations and imitation in the intellectual life of the early Renaissance.
  • Nicholas Havely, “Feeding the Flock with Wind”, in John Foxe at home and abroad, edited by David Loades, Aldershot, Hants, England; Burlington, VT : Ashgate,2004.

Week 6
Dante and Mandelstam - Justin Doherty

  • Reading: Primary
  • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy (any of the main translations)
    Osip Mandelstam, Conversation about Dante (also in The Poets’ Dante, pp. 40-93)
    (for anyone who reads Russian: Осип Мандельштам, «Разговор о Данте» The main Russian translation of Dante is Данте Алигьиери, Божественнаякомедия, перевод М. Лозинского)

Reading: secondary

  • Osip Mandelstam, The Moscow and Voronezh Notebooks: Poems 1930-1937, translated by Richard and Elizabeth McCane. Tarset: Bloodaxe, 2003
  • Osip Mandelstam, The Complete Critical Prose and Letters, ed. Jane Gary Harris. Ardis: Ann Arbor, 1979
  • Clare Cavanagh, Osip Mandelstam and the Modernist Creation of Tradition. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995 (see chapter 6, esp. pp. 210-14)
  • Clarence Brown, Mandelstam. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973 (general introduction to Mandelstam’s life and work)

Week 7
STUDY WEEK -- NO CLASS. Students start thinking about their essays.

Week 8
Dante and Primo Levi – Giuliana Adamo
Primary works:

  • Primo Levi, If This is a Man, translated Stuart Woolf. London: Penguin, 1979. [This and other editions available in TCD library: PB-140-744, PB- 21- 60, ZN 348.13, 175.e.71]

Secondary works:

  • Jonathan Usher, “Primo Levi, the canon and Italian literature”, in Robert S.C. Gordon (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Primo Levi. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 171-188. [858.914 LEVg P7]
  • Risa B. Sodi, A Dante of our time? Primo Levi and Auschwitz. New York: Peter Lang, 1990. [LEN 858.914 LEVg N0]
  • Ian Thomson, “The genesis of If this is a man”, in Stanislao G. Pugliese (ed.), The Legacy of Primo Levi. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005, pp 41-58. [858.914 LEVg P5]

Week 9
Dante and Beckett – Sam Slote.
Primary works:

  • Samuel Beckett, “Dante and the Lobster”, in More Pricks Than Kicks, London: Chatto and Windus, 1934. [TCD Library: Ussher, Open Access HIB 828.912 BEC:5 G4]
  • Jorge Luis Borges, "Beatrice's Last Smile" and "The Pitying Torturer" in Selected Non-Fictions: see The total library : non-fiction 1922-1986 / Jorge Luis Borges ; edited by Eliot Weinberger ; translated by Esther Allen, Suzanne Jill Levine and Eliot Weinberger. [TCD Library: Santry (use call slip or place request) HL-236-867.]
  • Jorge Luis Borges, "Inferno I.32" in Collected Fictions [TCD Library:Santry (use call slip or place request) HL-220-204

Secondary Reading :

  • Daniela Caselli, Beckett's Dantes: intertextuality in the fiction and criticism, Manchester University Press, 2005. [TCD Library: Ussher, Open Access 858.1 DANg P53]

Week 10
Dante in exile in England and North America – Igor Candido.
Primary Works:
Dante, Paradiso 17
Lord Byron, Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1818): IV, 57-59
Lord Byron, The Prophecy of Dante (1819): I, 69-84; 163-78; IV, 141-54.
R. W. Emerson, Saint Augustine (1929).
Dante G. Rossetti, Dante at Verona (1852).
H. W. Longfellow, Dante (1845).
E. Pound, Canto LXXVI (1948).
T. S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915).
T. S. Eliot, Ash-Wednesday (1930).
Hart Crane, Purgatorio (1933).
R. Lowell, The Exile’s Return (1946).
R. Lowell, Winter (1970).
R. Lowell, Epics (1977).
P. Schultz, Dante in Exile (1981).

Week 11

Modern Irish Poetic Echoes of Dante: Thomas Kinsella, Seamus Heaney, Ciaran Carson – Tom Walker
Primary Reading

  • Thomas Kinsella, “Downstream” (1962) [pdf uploaded on blackboard].
  • Seamus Heaney, “The Strand at Lough Beg” and “Ugolino”  from Fieldwork (1979) and the sequence “Station Island” from Station Island (1984) – [All these poems are  included in Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996, New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000]
    ------, “Envies and Identifications: Dante and the Modern Poet”, Irish University Review 15.1 (Spring 1985) – [pdf uploaded on blackboard]. 
  • Ciaran Carson, The Inferno of Dante Alighieri: A New Translation (2002), London : Granta, 2004.

Secondary Reading:

  • Rui Carvalho Homem, Poetry and Translation in Northern Ireland: Dislocation in Contemporary Writing (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) – key discussions of Carson and Heaney
  • Maria Cristina Fumagalli, The Flight of the Vernacular: Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott and the Impress of Dante, Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001.
  • Andrew Fitzsimons, The Sea of Disappointment: Thomas Kinsella’s Pursuit of the Real, Dublin: University College of Dublin Press, 2008.
  • Eric Griffiths and Matthew Reynolds, eds, Dante in English, London: Penguin Books, 2005. – introduction has some very astute passing remarks about Carson’s translation.
  • Maurice Harmon, Thomas Kinsella: Designing for the Exact Needs, Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2009.
  • Nick Havely, Dante’s Reading Public: Readers and Texts, from the Fourteenth Century to the Present (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) – some astute points on Carson in chp 8.
  • Joseph Heininger, “Making a Dantean Poetic: Seamus Heaney's ‘Ugolino’”, New Hibernia Review 9.2 (Samhradh/Summer 2005)
  • Brian John, Reading the Ground: The Poetry of Thomas Kinsella USA : Catholic University of America Press, 1997
  • Elmer Kennedy Andrews, ed., Ciaran Carson: Critical Essays: Dublin : Four courts, 2009. – see Denman essay on Carson’s prosody in relation to Dante.
  • Conor McCarthy, Seamus Heaney and Medieval Poetry, Boydell & Brewer 2008
  • Bernard O’Donoghue, Seamus Heaney and the Language of Poetry, London: Routledge, 2017.

Week 12
Dante in popular culture – Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin.

  • S.S. Prawer,  Comparative Literary Studies: an introduction, London: Duckworth, 1973 [Ussher, Open Access (ARTS 801 L36)]
  • Philip Terry, Dante's Inferno, Manchester: Carcanet, 2014 [Santry Stacks (place request) (PB-363-752)]
  • Aida Audeh and Nick Havenly (eds.), Dante in the long nineteenth century : nationality, identity, and appropriation, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012 [Ussher, Open Access (858.1 DANg R2]
  • Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin, "Dante in the Zebra-Striped Hearse", in Roberto Bertoni (ed.), Dantean Echoes, Turin: Trauben, 2003 [Ussher, Lending (LEN 858.1 DANg P33) — also available online from TARA database]
  • Amilcare Iannucci (ed.), Dante, Cinema and Television (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004)  
    [Ussher, Open Access (858.1 DANg P42)]
  • Dante Today – Citings & Sightings of Dante’s Works in Contemporary Culture

Wrap-up / students present their essay plans – Igor Candido (all colleagues are most welcome)